Monday, July 29, 2013


Dear Familia,

So many things have happened in the last 8 weeks, sometimes I feel like I didn´t actually have a real life before the mission! I will start with some things about my area:

I am serving in Montevideo, and by that I mean downtown, about 30 minutes  from the Mission Home! Tall buildings, taxis everywhere, buses, people galore, tons of apartment complexes, expensive prices, tons of members, and noise day and night.... 

My area is called Flores and I love it! We have a huge stretch of beach, which is absolutely gorgeous! Unfortunately it also makes it super cold! These last few days we have gotten some crazy wind and super wierd, thick fog! I didn´t think that the cold would be too bad, but I find myself wearing jackets, scarves, gloves, and hats, day and night (although that could have something to do with the fact that people don´t believe in heating their houses...)

One of the things that I did not expect is that everything is very European here. The people are almost exclusively fair skinned and with brown hair (although blue eyes are still something of a rarity). All of the plugs are the same as the ones in Europe (for those who want to know (Mom!)) and people dress fairly similar to Europeans. I feel more like I am in the US sometimes than a South American country...The funny thing is that the whole mission is not like this, just the three areas in Montevideo. I have heard that the interior (the center of Uruguay) is much more like Ryan´s mission, than this progressive European lifestyle in Montevideo. 

One of the hard things about it is that people don´t seem to have a lot of time to talk with the missionaries. We do a lot of street contacting and clapping doors, to try and find people to teach! It has been really great! I have already gotten to help teach lessons (in my interestingly, broken Spanish) and even given some commitments (that I am pretty sure the Investigators understood :))! In some great news, we found a promising, new investigator this last week named Silvana! She is 21 and she was a contact that the missionaries before us found! She stood out in the cold and talked to us for 30 minutes about the gospel. She seemed really interested and agreed to come to church...then Saturday night rolled around...she called and said that she couldn´t come because she was leaving town to visit her family. It was pretty disappointing, but we are supposed to teach her a lesson this week and she agreed to come to church next week! Pray that she is receptive to the lessons that we teach! 

In other news, my Spanish is coming along great! I actually understand the gist of pretty much everything that is said (except for viajitos, of whom I understand pretty much nothing). I know so many words now, but it is really hard for me to put them all together! In order for me to want to say something, it has to be of real importance! I think I have talked less in the last two weeks, than I would normally talk in a couple days! But I am learning!

Interesting food of the week: I ate something at a member´s house that had the consistency and color of sand and tasted only slightly better! I cannot remember the name, but I would highly suggest avoiding it if at all possible!

Sorry my letter was so boring this week, I will try to have some super interesting stories to tell next week!

Hermana McMurray

p.s. I challenge all of you to find a good reference for the missionaries in the next week! That is the main way that people have an interest in listening to the gospel (through the members)! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Change, Change, Change!!!

Dear Familia,

I have officially had the weirdest week in the history of ever! I have arrived in Uruguay, gotten a new companion, been in a Uruguayan Emergency Room three times, given tours in Spanish, and eaten Mondongo. 

I should probably address the Emergency room one first, don´t worry Mom, it wasn´t me. It was my companion. My companion has some thyroid problems and some allergies. She had to go to the hospital because of an allergic reaction. It wasn´t too bad, the hospital was private and so it was actually pretty nice. And now the moment you have all been waiting companion.........

My companion is Hermana Camacho! She is from Colombia and cannot speak a single word of English! It has been kinda hard because I really understand very little of what is being said to me, but I know that I have been blessed by the Lord. Now I am going to have to learn Spanish and fast. I think that I have already learned a couple hundred words in the past few days! The good news is that although Hermana Camacho and I cannot talk very much, my acting ability has grown exponentially. Whenever I don´t know the word for something I act it out! That has led to some very interesting demonstrations... Here is an example- I wanted to try and explain what a sleeping bag is, I have no idea why..., so I demonstrated setting up a tent, and crawling inside, unzipping my sleeping bag, and rezipping myself inside! At the end she had no idea what I was talking about,but I think she got a good laugh from it! 

One of the Elders from my District in the CCM is named Elder Huntsman. He was one of my favorite people in the CCM! He tried so hard to learn Spanish, but he is one of those people who just couldn't seem to learn the language. His pronunciations were terrible and his vocabulary was super limited. After I got my companion, I saw that he also had a companion who did not know a single word of English. As I walked out of the Mission Home past him, I heard him say to himself, "I am grateful for the opportunity I have to be here!" I laughed a little to myself, but I have kind of taken that as my motto as well. All the experiences I have here are to better me and to make me a better servant of the Lord. On a happy note, He and I are in the same district [which is strange because there are a ton of districts in the mission].  

I have eaten Mondongo, officially! On Thursday I went to a ward party. I walked up and I tried to get the chicken, but some well meaning member grabbed my bowl and filled it for me. I tried to tell him I only wanted the chicken, but since we really don't speak the same language, I don't think he understood me. So I sat down and as a stared at it thinking "if I eat the chickpeas, no one will even notice if I spread it all around". Nope I was very wrong. I was sitting at the end of the table and since I am the new missionary all the members would stop and ask me if I liked the food. So I took the cow stomach, put it in my mouth, and swallowed. It is officially the grossest thing I have ever eaten. After I had eaten about half, my companion took pity on me and ate it for me [probably because I was a light green color].

I got to go and help teach a lesson for the first time yesterday with an investigator. I have not been able to understand much, but at that lesson I understood almost everything! I felt the Spirit so strongly and I know that there is no way that I could have known  what was going on or what to bear my testimony about, if the Spirit had not been there. I know that the gift of the Holy Ghost is real and that when we keep the commandments God will bless us!

I am serving in the heart of Montevideo and it is super cold. My ward is in a place called Flores and I am in the 3rd ward!

I don't have time, and you guys probably don't have the patience to hear about the CVCs [or tours] so I will write about those next week!


Hermana McMurray

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hermana McMurray

Dear McMurray Family,
We have attached a photo of your daughter with President and Hermana Smith and her Trainer.  Hermana McMurray will be serving with Hermana Camacho in the Zone of Flores.  Thank you so much for your support.

Elder Velazquez
Executive Secretary
Uruguay Montevideo West Mission

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hermana McMurray

Dear McMurray Family,

We would like to inform you of the arrival of your daughter to the Uruguay Montevideo West Mission. She arrived here safe and sound this morning and met President and Sister Smith. She will receive some training in the mission home to help her get to know the mission and feel comfortable in Uruguay. The missionaries will have lunch with the Smith Family and, afterwards, she will meet her trainer and leave for her new area. It is such an exciting time for her, and we wanted to share it with you. We have included a picture of your daughter with President and Sister Smith. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to get in contact with us. We thank you for all you have done as parents to help your daughter reach this point in her life.

Elder Velazquez
Executive Secretary
Uruguay Montevideo West Mission

Monday, July 15, 2013

I'm leaving on a jet Uruguay!

Dear Familia,
This is just going to be a short little email because I only have a couple minutes. I leave for Uruguay tomorrow at 6:15 on flight AR2222. I should be in Uruguay for an early morning meeting at the mission home. I am super excited! My new emailing time will be on Mondays, so you won't hear from me until next Monday! I will be able to read your emails next Monday!

Love you all lots!
Hermana McMurray

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Caio to the English Language for the next 17 months!

Dear Familia,

It is my last few days in the CCM. I leave for Uruguay at 4 in the morning on Tuesday! I will get to email you guys again on Monday, but after that I have no idea when I will get to talk to you again! The six weeks in the CCM have just flown by, I am going to miss all of the visits to the temple, and the many missionaries, and the English language, but I am ready to go out and share the gospel with those who need to hear it.
We will start out with the funny stories of the Alma District:
First, there was a panic attack going on in the CCM this last week. President Openshaw read an email and found out that we were getting an extra 25 North Americans. It was total chaos. They had to create 9 districts (when they are only set up to handle 8), change all of the room schedules, shift the bedroom assignments... you get the picture. So of course as the only district left, they moved us downstairs into one of the sacrament rooms. Then they decided they didn´t have enough desks, so they took our desks...But we had to have something to write on, so they gave us four tables...Until they decided they needed the tables...So they took two of the tables back...So the ten of us, dutifully sat at two tiny tables for a day...Before they realized they had misread the email and there weren't a bunch of unplanned North Americans coming..So they had us move all of our stuff back up to our original classroom! Life is never boring at the CCM!!!
The second funny story was when we were playing football during actividad física as a district. We were just playing a friendly game, when one of the guys lobbed the football and it landed in a tree. I wish I could say that it was a nice little tree, but of course I think it is probably the tallest tree within a mile radius. So our District Leader shimmies up the tree and tries to shake it out. Unfortunately it was the top branches. So we regrouped and came up with a new strategy, or rather the three 18 year old boys in our District came up with a "brilliant" plan. They ask Hermana Page for her shoes and began to throw them at the took a good three tries before someone successfully got her shoe stuck in the tree next to the football! Don't worry, I hear tennis shoes aren't too expensive in Uruguay..Just Kidding! They ending up getting a soccer ball and knocking both out of the tree about ten minutes later (it might have helped that Hermana Page offered an Alfajor for whoever got her shoe down).
Now to slightly more spiritual things:
This week my companion Hermana Dean and I had the most amazing CRE experience. What is CRE? It is when we teach an investigator that we have one time. We have a small bio and we have about 15 minutes to prepare a lesson. This week we taught and I cannot explain exactly what happened, but it was amazing. We went in and we taught, but it was not the lesson that we had prepared to teach. Our investigator was a less active member who had not been to church in two years. We taught him and he agreed to come back to church and he was definintely a little teary eyed. We got out of the lesson, and we just looked at each other. We had both felt the Holy Ghost so strong and we both had taught based totally off of those promptings. It was an amazing experience and it just testifies to me once again, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church on the earth. The Lord directs and guides His church. I am doing His work and I can feel the Spirit as I teach about the church.

I love all of you guys and I miss you all!
Soon to be in Uruguay,
Hermana McMurray

Thursday, July 4, 2013

An Old Man and His Boat!

Dear Familia,
It has been another week in the CCM. Time is just roaring by, I cannot believe it has already been a month, I already want it to slow down...
The entertaining stories of District Alma for this week include:
In the afternoons we often have a couple of hours of grammar instruction, which is great...except we are all a little tired right after lunch. We had all made it about an hour, but it was clear that our district was slowly slipping into various states of unconsciousness, so our teacher decided to do what a good teacher would do and he had us give sentences that demonstrated what we were learning. He called on a kid named Elder Barton, who unfortunately might have been a little deeper than unconsciousness and maybe somewhere nearer to death...Our teacher said his name about three times, and the elder next to him nudged him and he woke up just in time to hear the word 'Oración'. Next thing we all know, he just shoots rightup and out of his seat, folds his arms, and just looks at all of us. Now for those who do not know, the word oración has two meanings. One meaning is sentence and the other means prayer. We all got a kick out of that one.
The second story happens to be about me. My companion and I were preparing to teach a chastity Spanish. Those lessons are hard enough, but due to my lack of those types of words in Spanish, I was feeling slightly worried about the lesson. So we were going over a bunch of words and planning on who would say what. I looked at our first bullet point and realized I knew all the words in spanish and so I decided I would be the one who taught it to our investigator. Unfortunately what came out was "I know sexual relations". That was all anyone in the class heard...ohhh I should always think before I speak! On a more positive note we taught the lesson to our investigator and we got feedback afterwards. He said it was the best law of chastity lesson he has ever heard! He said he loved that we didn't beat around the bush and that we just explained it flat out. Little did he know, that was due to the fact that we have no idea how to beat around the bush in Spanish :)!
Something crazy happened this week! For three days our district was the only district left at the CCM. That means there were 11 people in the CCM for the last few days...I think that we are probably the only people in the whole church who have been in an MTC with only 11 people. We had complete run of the place and delicious, fresh meals!!! Today is going to be mass chaos! We get 85 new people today, so that we can be back up to our usual numbers!
Saturday was proselitismo again. I was a little afraid because I did not feel like I could understand much last time I went. This week was a miracle! I actually understood pretty much everything everyone said to me! I even understood when some old man told me about his boat and all about how many windows it had!
Well we only had 30 minutes because all of the new people are coming and we are getting kicked off and so I will have to email everyone else next week! Sorry!!
Hermana McMurray